Jaiden Rodriguez, a 12-year-old, was pulled out of class last week and reprimanded by administrators at the Vanguard School, a charter school in Colorado, for displaying a Gadsden Flag patch on his backpack. The school claimed the Gadsden Flag is “considered an unacceptable symbol” because of its “origins with slavery and the slave trade.” In an email to Jaiden’s family, school administrators further claimed that the Gadsden Flag is “tied to hate groups.”
The Gadsden Flag originated in the Revolutionary War era when America’s founding generation bravely stood against British tyranny. The flag remains a symbol of liberty and resistance to oppression. That it has been adopted by all manner of groups today says nothing about its historical and enduring meaning to Americans.
The school cited a rule that forbade clothing that refers to drugs, tobacco, alcohol, or weapons, yet the Gadsden Flag violated none of those rules. Colorado Gov. Jared Polis, hardly anybody’s idea of an alt-right extremist, came to Jaiden’s defense. The Democratic governor took to X, formerly known as Twitter, to state: “The Gadsden flag is a proud symbol of the American revolution and [an] iconic warning to Britain or any government not to violate the liberties of Americans.” The flag is a “great teaching moment for a history lesson!” added Polis.
After Jaiden’s story went viral, the school wisely backtracked on its position. The Vanguard School Board of Directors released a statement of apology: “The Vanguard School recognizes the historical significance of the Gadsden Flag and its place in history. The incident is an occasion for us to reaffirm our deep commitment to a classical education in support of these American principles.”
PT1st commends the Vanguard School for quickly reversing course. It is refreshing to see an honest admission of fault on the part of the school. We especially commend Gov. Polis for his strong comments in defense of Jaiden, American history, and student speech.